Mantorp Festival, Sweden 1970

Mantorp Festival, Sweden 1970
Authored By John Nicholson

Held between Fri Jun 19, 1970 - Sun Jun 21, 1970 in Mantorop, Sweden, The Festival of the Midnight Sun , also known as the Mantorp Festival was such a flop that it became known as "The biggest fiasco in Swedish pop history". Surely it can’t have been that bad? 

The promoters, inspired like many were by being at Woodstock, booked a huge racetrack for the 3-day festival, then booked a huge list of acts, or at least they said they did. Whether they did actually book all of them is open to doubt.  

The event required 50-60,000 Swedish freaks to turn up, to be financially sustainable, but the weeks before the festival, the organizers announced that they had sold 12,000 advance tickets. A week before the gig, their PR dude was saying 300,000 would come from all over Europe. They didn’t. 

Only around 3,000 were in attendance at most. This led to the promoters losing money that they didn’t have and doing a runner, leaving Sweden before the bills arrived. 

The Byrds and Dr John were announced but were not in fact booked. However, Hawkwind, Blue Mink with Elton John on piano played, as did Chuck Berry, who was angry because he was picked up from the airport in a Merc and not the promised Rolls Royce! Yeah, just get in the car, Chuck. 

Canned Heat played but there was not enough money to pay them all their fee upfront so the promoter did what anyone would do, he drew up a contract and gave his house in Mallorca to Skip Taylor the band’s manager! Crazy times. 

The sun was welcomed as the guest of honor at the festival, which was dedicated to "peace, friendship, love, community and everything that can be thought of as beautiful". Far out man! 

Press from Europe turned up expecting to photograph naked hippies getting it on but couldn’t find any getting it on or off, for that matter. The German press even paid a girl to take her clothes off to get a salacious photo. How pathetic is that? 

There’s some video of the event here It shows a big old space to fill and it not being filled!

The promoters, having legged it, left the site and because there was no money to remove the stage and everything else, it stayed in situ for months, almost as reminder of how not to run a festival. 

This seems to have been naivety and bad organisation rather than malice or crookedness that brought this festival to its knees. They underestimated how much work and effort goes into making a festival happen and thus, it all fell apart at the seams.

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